How is one supposed to use topical minoxidil?

Minoxidil: how does one use it?

Topical minoxidil helps men and women with genetic hair loss (also called androgenetic alopecia) and is formally FDA approved for treating hair loss. If you have another kind of hair loss, it might not work or not as well. Minoxidil must be used forever if individuals are using for genetic hair loss. Minoxidil is not for everyone. I always  recommend individuals to follow the direction of his or her own physician and carefully review the packaging as well.


For men

Minoxidil 5 % foam is used 1/2 cap twice daily. 

For the minoxidil liquid the dose is 1 mL (approx 25 drops) twice daily. It is applied to the scalp and allowed to remain on for at least 6-8 hours. 


For women

1 mL of the 2 % lotion/solution is formally FDA approved. 

Some women opt to consider once daily application of the 5 % foam which is also now FDA approved. The 5 % lotion can also be used at a dose of 1 mL daily.


Regardless of the product used, minoxidil should be applied to a dry scalp and allowed to remain on the scalp at least 6-8 hours (longer is fine). Other products such as gels, sprays, mousse can be applied within 15 minutes. The goal is to get the product on the scalp, so I recommend  patients to make several parts in the hair to help ensure the minoxidil reaches the scalp. Side effects of minoxidil should be fully reviewed with a physician or pharmacist prior to starting.


Side effects of minoxidil

Side effects should be thoroughly reviewed by everyone before starting treatment. These include:

1. headaches

2. dizziness

3. heart palpitations

4. hair growth on the face (in 5% of users)

5. hair shedding in months 1-2

6. irritation

7. allergy (rare)

8. swelling in the feet

Other side effects are possible but rare. Minoxidil must never be used by women during pregnancy.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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